Jacobin and Junto: Or, Early American Politics as Viewed in the Diary of Dr. Nathaniel Ames, 1758-1822

Jacobin and Junto: Or, Early American Politics as Viewed in the Diary of Dr. Nathaniel Ames, 1758-1822

Jacobin and Junto: Or, Early American Politics as Viewed in the Diary of Dr. Nathaniel Ames, 1758-1822

Jacobin and Junto: Or, Early American Politics as Viewed in the Diary of Dr. Nathaniel Ames, 1758-1822

Excerpt

Never in American annals has there been a period when men "took their politics so hard" as in the twenty-five years between the framing of the Constitution and the end of the War of 1812. Households, families, communities, trades, and professions were split on political lines, in hot and abusive enmity, according as they held Federalist or Antifederalist views. Men patronized the taverns, shops, stage lines, banks, and other enterprises which were conducted by their party associates; they even regarded the political complexion of their doctors. Many lawsuits were argued on partisan lines, ruled on by partisan judges, and decided by partisan juries. Politics gave rise to murders, and entered into the trials for the crime. Churchgoers were divided on political lines, and men accepted only the preaching of those clergymen whose political beliefs coincided with their own. Politics entered even into the conduct of funerals. Moreover, the field of politics was a mire of scandal, libel, and scurrility; and political opponents belabored each other with epithets of the most opprobrious and contemptuous character. Ordinary daily life became a welter of acrid taunts, malignant personal attack, and vituperation. In those years the American people showed a capacity for passionate and sentimental expression, and for violence of speech and action, which was strangely out of keeping with the usual reticence of the Anglo-Saxon.

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